Sunday, 13 November 2011

Application Status Notification

The Personal Statement is, in my opinion, the most important thing about your application that can be easily influenced. You can have 50 A*s at GCSE, AAAAAAAA at AS, and still run the risk of being rejected if your universities if you submit them a piece summarising your life that makes you seem like the most boring stick in the mud to ever walk the earth.

I started writing my PS in the summer and the first draft is pretty embarrassing. Having been afraid of plunging into the thing properly, I decided not to make it particularly serious and so the document began with "PPE is my aim, my dream, bla bla bla." In the margins I'd written, perhaps wisely, 'come back to this later...' Underneath that, I listed my A levels. Perhaps I was worried I'd forget them? Underneath that was a thick paragraph of books titles I intended to read during the summer (but didn't); following on from that was the details of an essay competition I intended to enter during the summer (but didn't); and the rest consisted of doodles, repeated statements, and excuses regarding why I'd failed to flesh the thing out.

When I started writing my actual Personal Statement, I didn't even use that bit of paper as reference material. I ended up preparing for my application by doing work experience during the summer and so it was much easier to get into a groove with that on my mind, instead of with what was essentially a 'To Do' list. Anyway, one thing I do know is that if I was as successful at trimming the fat in real life as I ended up having to be when writing my personal statement, then I wouldn't have to worry about binge-eating after completing a particularly successful trawl of the internet for rejection statistics. I started out at 5500 characters, and I tell you this - it can be rescued when it's that long. I managed to cut it down to 4000 without losing anything of value, mostly by getting rid of nothing-words like 'particularly' and 'really' and 'very' and 'relatively' as well as a useless joke at the beginning about how at the age of 7 I'd considered the words Philosophy, Politics and Economics to be indicative of extreme boredom.

To anyone who has yet to write theirs, these are the most important things to remember. Firstly, utilise all 4000 characters. There's an urban legend about a pupil applying for Geography who made their personal statement into the shape of a tree using appropriate spacing. It's funny, but the content suffers. Also, instead of just listing your various achievements and endeavours, every university stresses how important to reflect on these experiences and really demonstrate what you gained from them that makes you a more prominent applicant. Particularly, show that you aren't just someone who is content to sit in lessons and not exhibit academic curiosity. Talk about your studies and reading outside class. However, it's still important to link your current studies with your future studies, and show how they stimulated your interest in the course. If you're applying to different courses at different institutions (like me - I'm applying to one which does not involve Philosophy), make sure the PS is entirely relevant for each, and that the courses are sufficiently similar that your application does not suffer on both fronts. Most importantly, don't lie. You'll regret it later, and it's unfair for the thousands of others applying entirely fairly up and down the country. Most of all, enjoy it. It's an opportunity to show who you truly are academically and it gives you a chance to draw together everything you've done. It might end up surprising you - you may have done more than you think.

In the middle of writing this post, I absently flicked onto Gmail to see that I had a new email lurking in my inbox. Having now experienced it for the very first time, I can confirm that there really is nothing that matches the thrill of fear that runs down your spine when you see the (1) and the words 'UCAS Application Status Notification.'

I clicked on the email and sort of skim-read it in a panic. There was no point, really; I already knew what it would say. You are cordially informed that, "This change may for example be one of the following; one of your choices has made a decision about your application; you have received an invitation; you have withdrawn from a choice; your reply to an offer has not been received at UCAS by the deadline given."

Having read this, I engaged in an internal monologue with myself in which I debated the merits of either logging on to Track, or instead of deciding not to log on to Track ever again and just postpone university indefinitely. Anyway, a minute or so of hand-wringing later, I logged on. I have an offer!


  1. Hah, you just inspired me to work on my statement. :D
    And congratulations on offer!

  2. Woo :D Good luck with it! It feels so good when it's finally finished. And thanks, I was so happy :D x

  3. I'm applyin for the same course, so hope I'll be as lucky as you :)

  4. Yay! PPEists are the best :) Best of luck to you!

  5. im applying through ucas and uni too :D
    just followed your blog xD

  6. PPE is so awesome, I'm applying to do PPE as well.
    Also, Emma, why is the title of your blog "England, chocolate, plus a student"? Do you support England? Football fan?

  7. To Kean Tyrone - Thanks so much! Good luck :D

    To slooby-doo... lol!

  8. I too would be quite interested to hear how you came up with the title of your blog! like slooby doo said! A you the "student" in question, is england your place of residence?